Jennifer Bullis holds a Ph.D. in English from University of California, Davis, and taught community-college writing and literature in Bellingham, Washington, for 14 years. She is the author of a poetry collection, Impossible Lessons, published in 2013 by MoonPath Press, and of a nine year-old son. Currently, she is at work on two poetry manuscripts starring a fictional persona named Amanda Bubble. She blogs about poetry, mythology, and hiking at www.jenniferbullis.com.
“I wrote this essay to alert new parents and mental-health professionals alike to the havoc that endocrine disruptions can wreak on a new mother’s psyche. My own postpartum depression resulted from low thyroid production, accompanied (or perhaps caused) by depletion of my adrenal glands, following the stresses of a difficult pregnancy, rocky adjustment to motherhood, and prolonged breastfeeding. A psychiatric Nurse Practitioner correctly advised me, ‘Depression is what happens when you’re exhausted by the anxiety’—but instead of pursuing physiological factors of this exhaustion, she put me on an antidepressant, which helped tremendously; however, it took me two additional years to zero in on the thyroid and adrenal problems, and eight years to taper off the antidepressant. Moms with PPD, get your thyroid levels tested: a simple blood draw can diagnose an easily treatable cause.”